News bullets and other important items:
- Bye weeks. They are many, varied, ever-changing, and eternal.
- Aside from the guys who are out for the year, everyone except maybe Brandon Moore and maybe Marvin Robinson should be back for Purdue.
- Also except for Nathan Brink.
“You know, the bye weeks, I think you never know when a good bye week is, when it’s not a good bye week -- I don’t think you really know that until you go through it. I think it was good because of the productivity that we got from having the bye week. I would hope we have that, the productivity, anytime the bye week was, but I think we got to really re-evaluate where we’re at and what we want to do. I think you evaluate yourselves a little bit as coaches. I think that’s always a big part of it. Different things in the aspects that you’re involved with, from the kicking, the defense, the offense. You always look at self-scouting, see where you’re at, what you might want to do different or what you like, what you’re doing.
"I think the other part of it is the teaching part, the fundamentals, and those things that go along with it. I think the other part, which was big, was the guys who are traveling who are freshmen have not been home since June 25th. We have a lot of those guys from the state, got a lot of those guys within driving distance from Ohio and Chicago. It was good to give them about 36 hours to be a human being and go home and maybe watch their high school play, see mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, aunt and uncles, whoever -- I thought that was positive. And then from the academic side also I think it’s always a help.
"So we’ll find out obviously Saturday. We’ve got a tremendous challenge because I think Purdue’s playing as well as anybody in our league right now. Three and one. Went to South Bend and played a hard-fought tough game, had a chance to win the game. So we got our work cut out for us.”
How much Big Ten football did you watch last weekend?
“Well Mrs. Hoke, she loves watching football. I see a lot of football, but I watched Purdue and Marshall obviously, going down there and and playing them. Watched the other two Big Ten games that were on.”
Without revealing any secrets, what did you discover about your team over this week?
“Well if I tell you then we’d reveal a lot of secrets. I think offensively, I think being able in the second half to move the line of scrimmage was a positive. I think we need to really look at that, and running the football. Defensively, probably a little more confidence in some guys who played well and played physical, so I think that part of it is important.”
Do you see any similarities between this year’s defense and last year’s defense in terms of improvement?
“I think one of the differences is -- we forced or got our hands on a lot of balls last year turnover-wise. Have not seen that. We had the two interceptions two weeks ago on Saturday, but we haven’t been around the ball as much from a coverage aspect and also the other aspect of it, we’ve got to do a better job pressuring the quarterback. At times with the four-man rush we’re not bad, and this goes all the way back to week one against Alabama. With the four-man rush we put decent pressure, but we’ve got to be better on that forcing some ill-advised throws.”
Why is that -- the turnovers not happening?
“I think most of it is the fact that we’re not taking the quarterback off his mark timing-wise either with pressure or with tighter coverage. We got some different guys, obviously, but at the same time, we think we should be able to do the same kinds of things with who we have.”
What specifically concerns you about Purdue?
“I think their two corners are very good fotoball™ players. I think they’re really good cover guys. I think up front Kawann Short and the front itself, front four, you watch them against Notre Dame, they played a very good football. Offensively they have good skill. They’ve always had good skill. They had good skill last year. There’s some of the same guys playing. I think TerBush is better. I think the quarterback -- Marve was the guy, he got hurt, but I think this guy has come in, has been percentage-pass wise doing a good job with the football.”
How does a playmaker like Denard learn how to throw the ball away vs. trying to make plays?
“Well I think you got a lot of quarterbacks and a lot of guys who are competitors at a high level -- yeah they believe in their abilities. You want them to believe in their abilities, but at the same time we have to understand that a punt’s a good play. You know, maybe sticking your foot in the ground and going north and south is a good play.”
How’s your health coming out of the bye?
“I feel pretty good.”
How’s your team’s health?
“There ya go. You know, I think Beyer will be back. Brandon Moore will be close. He’s getting better.”
“Richard is better. Uh there’s one more, too.”
“Hop’s fine. Devin’s fine. They all practiced last night. Yeah Ricky Barnum was a little -- sore shoulder. He was fine last night. So with the guys who aren’t out for the year, the rest of them are okay.”
“He was better. He ran around last night and he feels much better.”
How did the bye help your players?
“I think it helps mentally, and if it helps mentally, it’s going to help physically. I really believe that. I think the opportunity to get more treatments and do those kinds of things helps.”
Do you think your team has regressed or improved fundamentally since fall camp?
“I think they’ve improved from a fundamental standpoint. Part of that is what we’ve been doing. I think you obviously have some young guys who are playing. Some of the fundamentals are brand new, so the more they’ve done them, the better off they’ve been. With the linebacker it’s footwork starting from stance all the way. He’s done it one way so much in his life, and now all of a sudden this is how you do it, it takes a little time. I’d say up front on both sides of the ball, I think they’ve improved fundamentally … I think we played better fundamentally two weeks ago at a lot of positions than we have. We did go back to hit again to keep the reinforcement that we want.”
What did you see on offense that was better than you thought?
“Yeah. I think the line of scrimmage was better. I felt that coming out of the game that it was better, so that was the positive. I think just execution of some routes, execution of some plays, blocking a little better on the perimeter which we’ve been a pretty physical team. I think we’ve got to keep pushing that and keep getting that better.”
Purdue gave up a lot of yards last weekend vs. Marshall. What can you take away from that?
“You know, and I agree -- I think it’s hard to judge a little bit because that’s what Marshall wants to do. That’s what they’re built to do. They were going to do that no matter what. They got behind, obviously, but with what I know about Marshall -- I have not studied them -- but that’s the kind of football they want to play. I’m trying to think … from the standpoint of being effective with it, they were pretty effective with it, and Purdue scored two touchdowns on defense with the interception returns.”
Where does Kawann Short rank among the Big Ten’s defensive tackles?
“You know, I’ve not seen everybody yet. I would say he’s got to be probably at the top of the line or right next to it. Until you play everybody, I think it’s always hard until you see them live.”
Did you have any sense of the kind of team Purdue would be this year?
“We really just do it with the first three games. You’ve got an idea with a new change of staff what they want to do. You’ve got an idea of their personnel, but the first three games are kind of the ones you want to get a hand on … We’ve always thought -- we thought a year ago that they were a good football team. The week before they played us they beat Illinois and really got after them pretty good. From a skill standpoint and a front defensively standpoint, they’ve got some playmakers.”
What’s the biggest thing the freshmen can learn over the bye?
“Yeah. I think it all starts in your mind. Mentally they probably feel -- I know talking to a number of them yesterday during warmup and stretching and all that, they really appreciated and enjoyed the time to go home and see family members and just get away. Now the other guys, this is home to them, and this is how it becomes.”
With Beyer back, what’s the competition like with him and Frank Clark?
“They’ll compete. They’ll compete and see who’s going to start. They’ll both play because of number one, they’re both good enough to play. I think the second part of it, Purdue wanted to go to the high tempo offensively. I think they ran close to 50 plays in the first half the other day, so they’re trying to get some plays run.”
Does having Beyer back change what you want to do with the defensive line?
“No I don’t think so when you look at with Frank and Ojemudia, they both played quite a bit down in South Bend. I think it gives us more capable bodies and guys we think are going to be good football players, but it won’t change scheme-wise.”
Denard has thrown interceptions in 11 of the last 12 games. Is he where you want him to be in terms of decision-making?
“Now really, think about that question. What do you think? Seriously.”
“Probably not, right? He’s got to play a little better. We’ve got to help him play a little better by blocking better, routes, catching better, competing better, and also as a staff make sure he can do the things we’re asking him to do.”
Should he be farther along in that learning process?
“When you look at the process, it’s not all one guy. When you’ve got a linebacker in your face and you’ve got somebody around your leg, sometimes it’s hard to finish plays like you’d like to. Do we want him to throw the ball away when the opportunity’s there? Do we want him to be a little more on target with the ball at times? No question. But it’s not just him by any count.”
Are you worried that Denard is what he is, i.e. not improving in your system?
“No. Not at all. I mean, he’s our quarterback, and he’s a damned good quarterback. I didn’t say that, so don’t write that. No we’re very comfortable and we’re very confident in him. … I know you’re going to write that.”
“Daggone it. My mom’s going to read that and get mad.”
She doesn’t think you swear?
“Why don’t you just ask a question.”
Borges mentioned he wanted to give Fitz 20-25 carries a game. Is that the kind of production you want now, especially to help out Denard?
“Yeah I think. Obviously we’ll leave [Denard] with some of the things that we ask him to do, if we can establish a running game with the tailback.”
Is not having that production on Fitz or the offensive line?
“I think it’s both. It’s both. You can’t point the finger at one thing, and when it’s worked it’s been both.”
Did anyone in particular on the offensive line stand out to you in particular vs. Notre Dame?
“No I think they all together did a much better job leveraging their fundamentals and got some movement on them and finished some combination blocks … I just think most offensive lines that have been around, they want to be fed. They want to run the football. They want to establish the line of scrimmage. I think they kind of -- at half time in the conversation of what we wanted to do, they kind of got the message. I can’t even tell you how many yards we rushed for, but you could feel a presence on the field.”
So do you feel like there’s carry-over moving forward?
“Yup. On both sides of the ball.”
Are you concerned with equipment on the sidelines where players can get hurt running into them? Did you say anything to anyone after the Notre Dame game?
“Yeah, and I don’t know what good it’s going to do to be honest with you. I’m trying to think, and you guys probably know our stadium a little better. We put bands in the corner sometimes. It’s part of the -- I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if anybody’s going to change anything.”
Has your perspective on the Big Ten race changed after watching the first week of conference play?
“I don’t think so. I think it’s the Big Ten. I think people are going to get after each other. I think everyone knows each other pretty well in the league to some degree, knows what they want to do and how they want to do it. It’s just a matter of how you prepare every week to play your best. I think playing on the road is always a part of it, and it’s one thing we’ve talked about all year is we’ve got to be a better road team.”
Team’s performance in road games vs. home games?
“I think rhythmically, and you always remember the losses, and taking care of the football.”